MTN and the Solution Space based at the University of Cape Town's (UCT's) Graduate School of Business are inviting entrepreneurs developing digital solutions on the African continent to apply to the next Venture Incubation Programme.
The Solution Space is looking for 10 digital ventures to participate in the upcoming Winter School Venture Incubation Programme (VIP), which begins in September.
"This is an opportunity for innovation-driven entrepreneurs who are working on digital solutions to take their business to the next level," says Sarah-Anne Alman, manager at the Solution Space.
"The early-stages of a start-up are so critical and often the least supported time in the life-cycle of a start-up. We aim for maximum impact at this stage and for start-ups to leave our incubator with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals required for a viable solution."
Run over three months with sponsorship and mentorship support from MTN, the Venture Incubation Programme provides participants with R300 000 worth of support.
This consists of mentorship, advisory services, access to investor and corporate networks and workshops on business fundamentals, such as marketing strategy and business model development. The programme has helped over 30 start-ups during the past two years.
"At MTN, we are committed to driving the development of a bold new digital world," says Stephen van Coller, MTN Group VP for digital services, data analytics and business development. "MTN's dedicated teams are highly active in this Venture Incubation Programme to provide a strong connection between the start-ups developing the latest digital solutions and the expertise and resources existing within MTN."
According to Kamogelo Kekana, co-founder of Akiba Digital, a mobile application for financial services and a current participant of the VIP Summer School, the programme helps set up entrepreneurs for success. "One big benefit is how the programme integrates you into the Cape Town start-up ecosystem."
For fellow participant, Rufaro Masiiwa, who is with Mkwereti, a data analytics platform for the agricultural sector, a highlight has been being challenged to test risky assumptions about business models early on during the five-day design sprint.
"There is so much access to a wealth of support and business acumen, as well as legal, financial and marketing help on the programme," she says.
The programme also offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect with other start-ups on the same journey, says Dhanyal Davidson, from the Digest, a financial media start-up for millennials, as well as Prospa, a savings solution for low-income earning South Africans.
"It keeps your energy high and gives you a sounding board when faced with both mental blocks and tough decisions."
These and other start-ups participating in the VIP Summer School will showcase their business models at a Demo Day on 26 June. "The event is designed to give them an opportunity to present to investors and corporate partners. It is also a chance for potential participants to come and have a look at what the programme is all about," says Shiela Yabo, co-ordinator at the Solution Space.
Yabo adds that since the inception of the VIP programme two years ago, the standard continues to go up, with an impressive level of entrepreneurs joining. To qualify, start-ups must be working towards building a sustainable Africa through digital solutions, be committed to their business full-time, and be a team of at least two members.
"We focus on the early stage of the development process. Our aim is to get a business model validated and to see what is needed to turn it into a start-up that is sustainable and scalable," says Yabo.
The programme aims to reach innovators in fintech, IOT, edtech, agtech, e-commerce, entertainment, gaming and health tech.
For more information or to apply to the VIP Winter School Programme, click here. Applications close on 1 July.